Cattle on the range: Grass fed beef and Omega 3

This time of year in California’s cattle country in the Sierra Nevada, we don’t see a lot of cattle. Ranchers have either sold their younger feeder cattle or have moved their herd to higher elevations in the Sequoia National Forest where they will summer on grassy ranges. Every summer I look for the perfect picture of cattle grazing in the Sequoias and I continue my hunt this season.
We buy a steer every couple of years from one of the local ranchers and typically have him finished on grain for a few weeks. The grain finishing reduces the Omega 3 fatty acids in the meat, but the steer never had a whole lot of Omega 3s to begin with (see Omega 3 fatty acid levels in grass fed beef). You can read here about a steer we bought last winter when “I met my meat.”
So while I’d like to claim that I buy the steer grass finished and buy it for the Omega 3 fatty acids, we actually have grained them a bit before slaughter and I also recognize that if I am really after Omega 3s, I should look to an animal that swims a little better than a steer (see fish and Omega 3 fatty acids).
We buy the beef like we do to avoid that whole feedlot stage with the food we are eating. It just seems like a crummy place to live if you’re a steer and it makes more sense to put the money directly in the hands of the rancher. Of course, he will only sell me a live steer which gives me the excitement of hiring people like Ted and taking pictures like the one below.

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